As a parent, some of us naturally gravitate toward the role of good cop while others put on the bad cop hat. To fuel positive growth for your teen, the good cop and bad cop must balance.
Ultimately, your daughter’s behavior will decide how she is disciplined. Your role is to trust God, set a positive example and be consistent with your actions. By doing so, you are giving her the tools she needs to excel.
Here are the core actions to take when disciplining your teen:
Be open and firm.
As your daughter grows, she will challenge you. Hear her side of the story, but hold your ground. Rather than pulling out the “because I said so” card, explain your reasoning for taking disciplinary action. This creates an educational experience for all involved and ideally prevents the same problem from repeating itself. Remind yourself that your daughter’s ability to be assertive and speak her mind are not bad things and actually show internal strength and resilience. She exercises this strength by speaking her mind and she learns to accept limits as you stand firm with yours.
Celebrate good behavior.
Did your teen go above and beyond? When your teen devotes her free time to teaching younger children during Bible study at church, or something similar, express your appreciation. For example:
- Have your next family dinner at her favorite restaurant.
- Allow her to host a slumber party.
- Purchase a book she wants to read.
Rewards should not be expected for every good deed or act, but occasional recognition will encourage repetition.
Remove privileges for bad behavior.
Cell phones and televisions are privileges, not necessities. When your teen misbehaves, it is necessary to be the bad cop. In this case, remember to state the reason for punishment and draw strict boundaries so expectations are clear.
Incorporate faith-based lessons into your discipline.
Think back to when you were in school. The greatest teachers do not just tell you what you need to know, they tell you why you need to know it. Don’t only tell your teen how to behave. Offer her reasons to explain why that behavior is expected.
In our personal and professional lives, we are faced with endless choices, ranging from what we eat to how we respond to difficult situations. Consistency enables us to remain balanced. Apply that mindset to disciplining your teen. While you may naturally gravitate toward being the good cop or bad cop, it is also very important that each parent intentionally incorporate both grace and truth in your interactions with your daughter.